In May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee filed suit against the Knox County and Metro Nashville school district for blocking lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer websites. Two weeks later, on June 3rd, the school districts announced that they would stop filtering the websites of gay-friendly advocacy groups such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). You can read the full article about the decision here.
A lot of schools and libraries filter their Internet to block explicit sexual or violent content. In fact, post Children’s Online Protection Act (COPA) / and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) legislation, many public libraries are required to use Internet filtering software if they want to receive funding from the federal E-Rate program.
While you can try to make the case that filtering the Internet helps protect the young and innocent, I think you can more convincingly argue that denying people access to information doesn’t make them safer. We need freedom of inquiry to make the best choices.
Meanwhile, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is calling our attention to a recent troubling Fox News segment, “Unfit to Print?”. On June 15, Fox News interviewed two parents calling for removal of Gossip Girl and other young adult fiction from the youth section of the Leesburg Public Library in Florida. Parents Dixie Fechtel and Diane Venetta argue that the books should be pulled from the 12+ young adult section. In the Fox News segment, Venetta states, “This is not about censorship” but calls upon parents “to go and see what’s in the youth section of your public library.”
The Kids’ Right to Read Project at NCAC has supported the Leesburg library in its effort to retain the books where they are in the youth section, noting that the Constitution “prohibits the public library from censoring material because some people find it offensive or distasteful. The public library’s role is to serve the entire community, not to reflect or cater to any specific viewpoint.” While the Leesburg Public Library has voted to keep the contested books on the shelf for now, the recent media attention means that they still need our help. Please spread the word and show your support of intellectual freedom!